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What Americans Know

February 2024
1min read

IN HIS DECEMBERDKCHMBHR “IN THE NEWS!N THK NHWS” column, Bernard A. Weisberger takes another look at the endless debate over how much Americans know about their history. I believe that Americans have a deeper sense of their own history than any other people in the world. Remember those (probably apocryphal) polls in the sixties where some wit would read the Bill of Rights to “average” Americans and then use leading questions to get them to admit it sounded like Communist propaganda? I always assumed such a poll might have happened, but it never troubled me. My expanded version of that poll would have followed up by asking if the pollster could come over and search their houses without a warrant or confiscate their hunting rifles, and then I think we would have found out just how well “average” Americans know the Bill of Rights. That’s the true test of their knowledge of eighteenth-century documents: “I know my rights.” (It reminds me of Canadians who supposedly think, in large numbers, that they have Miranda rights because they see it on television. Sadly, they are watching American TV, not Canadian TV, and don’t know the difference.)

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